Battle of Yiling

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Battle

At the Battle of Yiling in 222, Liu Bei enraged at the execution of his sworn brother Guan Yu at the hands of the Kingdom of Wu, lead an attack force to the plains of Yi Ling. It is rumored that he brought every man who could fight in the Shu Empire, which would number close to 750,000 men, but it was probably dramatized by Luo Guanzhong in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Nevertheless, he brought a sizable force. Days before the Shu Empire mobilized its forces to attack Wu, Zhang Fei, the other sworn brother of Liu Bei, was killed by his own soldiers in retribution for beating the soldiers unfairly. This act further enraged Liu Bei, who attacked blindly into Wu against Zhuge Liang's advice. All of Shu's generals and troops were committed to this one retribution campaign, with the exception of Zhuge Liang, and Zhao Yun, who after protesting against war with Wu, were ordered by Liu Bei to remain behind.

Initally, Liu Bei won a string of victories, pushing him into the heart of Wu. As supply lines grew longer from Cheng Du, the Shu troops grew wearier also. It should also be noted that the majority of Shu forces were infantry, and were very advantageous in mountainous terrain over Wu marines. Deeper into Wu, the terrain of the region became more flat, more plain-like, which gave the Wu Cavalry and Navy a great advantage on the tired Shu infantry.

At the Battle of Yiling, Lu Xun, a competent young strategist was given command of the Wu forces. Under his direction, the Wu forces didn't fight in mountainous terrain, and stayed behind fortified forts, thus taking away Shu's superior battlefield edge. As Shu's supplies dwindled, it had also turned into Summer. Summer in those regions was extremely hot that year, and killed off many plants and shrubs, as Yiling was right on the Chang Jiang River and right next to a great forest. Liu Bei's forces were camped right outside the forest when Lu Xun took command, and soon the summer heat started irritating the men.

Lu Xun then brilliantly devised a strategy in which he waited. Liu Bei's men challenged and taunted Lu Xun to send his forces out of his walls, but Lu Xun ordered his gates shut and wouldn't meet his taunters. Heat waves eventually plagued Liu Bei's men during the standoff, and Liu Bei finally had to move his entire army, against Ma Liang's advice, into the forest for shade, in the dead heat of summer. Liu Bei's fatal error was realized that night when Lu Xun's firebowmen, infiltrated behind Liu Bei's camp by the Wu Navy, set the entire camp of Yiling on fire. The woods, fueled by the dead plants and dry air of the summer heat, created wildfires that could not be put out, and as the Liu Bei's men rushed for water, Wu archers shot them down. Liu Bei narrowly escaped with his life to Bai Di Tseng (White Castle) with less than a thousand men.


Many fine warriors died at the Battle of Yi Ling. Liu Bei was surrounded at Bai Di by Wu troops, and the stress of the crushing defeat and the loss of his brothers took his life. Ma Liang, Liu Bei's military adviser for the Wu Retribution Campaign and the person who advised him not to camp in the forest, died from Wu ambushers attacking Liu Bei. Huang Zhong was also shot down in a attempted charge to break Wu lines. Gan Ning also died, after being shot in the back of the head by Shamoke. Shamoke would try to escape the fire attack, but was cut down by Zhou Tai.

The Battle of Yiling in 222 sealed off Shu-Han's fate as most of the entire army was killed or captured in a period of 2 days. Shu-Han's power from there on was directed by Zhuge Liang, who eventually mended ways and established ties with the Kingdom of Wu.ja:夷陵の戦い

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